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The University of Arizona has a longstanding, fun little tradition where the newest pledge class of a fraternity performs a musical act for a sorority during their chapter meeting. They call it serenading, and it’s a pretty common practice at many universities, whether the brothers wear suits and sing “Build Me Up Buttercup,” or wear wacky clothes and bust out goofy frat guy dance moves. The serenades at UA seem to lean towards the latter.
The guys are feeling it. The girls cheering and laughing and chanting the fraternity’s letters. Looks like a fun, harmless time, right? Wrong. According to the UA Panhellenic Council, which is comprised of select members from each sorority, it is a disgusting perpetuation of rape culture.
The council passed a resolution on March 22 that “changes the nature of fraternity serenades from their current dancing form to their more traditional and ritual songs.” The resolution was proposed by Panhellenic President Allie Patberg, who was inspired after participating in the “I Will” campaign, a student-led effort to end rape culture on campus.
From The Daily Wildcat:
“I decided that it would be best if I took that knowledge and information and tried to create a positive change within our individual greek community,” Patberg said.
Patberg also said that some members had expressed concerns regarding serenades, which can often be sexual in nature, and the council and its advisors collectively decided that the serenades were not reflective of greek life’s values.
“We obviously don’t know what our members have been through, and we don’t want to create any triggering situations for anyone,” Patberg said. “Our ultimate goal is to protect the well-being of our members.”
Now, I’ve never been a victim of rape, but unless my attacker was wearing pink short-shorts and the Spice Girls was blaring in the background, I don’t know how these serenades could be a trigger.
I also resent the undertones of the resolution to ban serenades. It implies that fraternity men have raped so many sorority girls that anything even remotely sexual in nature could trigger horrendous flashbacks for dozens of women. That’s not the case. Not even close.
Patberg even admits that physical sexual assaults aren’t a problem at UA, but it’s the “overall culture” that doesn’t sit right with her. Another sorority girl said it was about setting an example for other campuses that do have rape problems.
Patberg assured that although there currently haven’t been any direct instances of Title IX violations regarding sorority members in relation to serenades, she does not want to take any risks.
“I think when people hear Title IX, they automatically think very serious, like assault, but it’s more just the overall culture of it,” she said. “It’s not like it’s directly engaging in sexual assault, but it’s the culture and the sexual misconduct that happens on campus.”
Jessica Kogan, a psychology sophomore and a member of the sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi, has experienced the fraternity serenades firsthand during weekly chapter meetings at her house.
“Serenades have been a really fun part of my experience in a sorority,” she said. “Despite the fact that I feel the dancing and sexual tone of this activity is harmless at the UA, it isn’t at all universities, and I believe it is the responsibility of the UA Panhellenic council and the Interfraternity Council to continue the campus, country and world-wide fight against rape culture by giving serenades a more appropriate and respectful vibe.”
I get it, girls. I really do. You’re trying to do the right thing, and on the surface, the resolution may seem like it would have a positive effect on the image of Greek life by telling the world you’re proactive about sexual assault on campus. But in reality, it has the opposite effect. Barring guys from dancing like goofballs to The Backstreet Boys sends the message that Greek life is such a hotbed of rape that we have to do everything in our power to minimize even the slightest nod towards sex. Not a good look.
On another note, I have to commend the fraternity men at UA for leaving it all on the floor. Dance moves so hot they illegal son. Props.
Unfortunately, the future of serenades looks real weak at UA. Now they’re going to have to bid some “sensitive” tool who can sing and play acoustic guitar. Those kids are the worst..
The guys discuss this story, blacking out, and drunkenly tazing a friend on this week’s “Inside TFM Podcast.” SUBSCRIBE HERE on iTunes, or listen to the episode below.
[via The Daily Wildcat]